the raven essay

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Essay on The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

The Raven, by E.A. Poe, is a poem about sadness and loss. The narrator attempts to escape from melancholy and human mortality, trying to slip away into a kind of forgetfulness. Three main supporting elements of this poem are the Romantic Characteristics taken from Romanticism (a movement in the arts that glorified nature, idealized the past, and celebrated human experiences). Symbolism (use in literature of objects or events to represent something other than themselves, frequently abstract ideas or concepts). Finally the mood/atmosphere (established though description of setting and the overall impression of the situation).

Romantic Characteristics: The Raven consists of three Romantic Characteristics; imagination over reason, the accent of mystery and use of the supernatural. Poe uses imagination over reason to portray the raven as an evil being. It should be known that the raven is the Devil or one of the Devil’s messengers sent to torture the man for the rest of his life by telling him that he will “nevermore” see his Lenore again. (“This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word ‘Lenore!’–” ). It should also be recognized that the raven is made out as a type of prophet who knows all past and present of his life and that it can control his future in the after life. Use of the accent on mystery makes the Raven out as a prophet of the man’s future to come in his after life not knowing if his after life is in Heaven, the house of Angels or Hell, the lair of demons. The reader is never able to specify if the Raven is a feathered creature of knowledge or just a normal bird. When it echoes “nevermore” repeatedly through each stanza, it characterizes the Raven as a Devil to torment the man but at the same time it may have learned its only stock and store from some unhappy master owned previously. The next Romantic Characteristic is the use of the supernatural. When the Raven is looked at as the Devil, it is obvious that its only purpose is to make the narrators life a chaotic living Hell. The Raven shows characteristics of the dead Lenore, when its essence resembled that of his lost love. (“The air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer.”)

Symbolism: Poe uses several symbols to embrace its various meanings at a higher level. The most obvious symbol is visibly the raven itself which signifies the narrator’s “Mournful and never-ending remembrance.” It symbolizes that Lenore is dead and he can do nothing to change her death. When it was decided to use a refrain that repeated the word “nevermore,” Poe found that it would be more effective if he used a non-reasoning creature to utter the word. It is important that the answers to the questions are already known so as to illustrate the self-torture to which the narrator exposes himself. Another evident symbol is the bust of Pallas (goddess of wisdom) in which the raven had perched. (“Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–“). This leads the narrator to believe that the raven spoke from wisdom and was not just repeating its only “stock and store.” A less apparent symbol may possibly be the use of “midnight” in the first verse and “December” in the second verse. Both midnight and December symbolize the end of something as well as the anticipation of something new. The midnight in December may accurately be New Year’s eve, a date most of us connect with change. The chamber in which the narrator is positioned is used to indicate the loneliness of the man and the sorrow he feels for the loss of Lenore. The room is lavishly furnished and reminds the narrator of his lost love, which helps to create an effect of beauty in the poem. the tempest outside is used to signify further the isolation of this man and to show a sharp contrast between the calmness in the chamber and the stormy night.

Mood/Atmosphere: “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing; Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;”

Of all melancholy topics, the most universally understood is death. It is believed that the perishing of an attractive woman was the most poetical use of death because it closely allies itself with elegance and Poe considered sadness to be the highest manifestation of beauty. The description of the setting in the opening two stanzas of the poem depict that of a dismal nature. The tone proves to be forlorn with the help of phrases like “midnight dreary”, “weak and weary”, “bleak December”, and “sorrow for the lost Lenore.” Furthering the dismal atmosphere is the use of the raven being especially suitable because they are birds of an ill-omen. The narrator wants to erase the ghastly spirit, but every time he looks at the bust of Pallas, the two staring eyes of the raven remind him of his pain. The rational order of the world of the narrator has been disrupted by the appearance of the bird. The raven is a fate that cannot be escaped, no matter how much wisdom, or reason, or sanity one may attempt to apply. The man’s soul is shattered and after his insight into the madness of his world, it “Shall be lifted – nevermore.”

The Romantic Characteristics, symbolism and the atmosphere of “The Raven” captures the importance of what is emphasized in Poe’s favorite theme: the untimely death of a beautiful woman. In “The Raven”, Poe intended to represent a very painful condition of mind, as of an imagination that was likely to tumble over into insanity or an abyss of melancholy, from the perpetuity of one uniform emotion. Through the poem, Poe makes his personal, introverted hell unusually attractive to all, and as a result, “The Raven” is more well known than any of his other poems. Moreover, the Romantic period considers Poe one of the founders of Romantic writing.

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Essay On The Raven By Edgar Allan Poe

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature , Beauty , Poem , Edgar Allan Poe , Death , Love , Poetry , Theater

Published: 01/16/2020


This free full essay is the property of WowEssays and is meant to be used as an example only. 

The Raven is a dramatic monologue, a narrative poem and one of the most popular poems of Edgar Allan Poe. The poem shows different stages of the speaker’s mood which is pensive and sorrowful throughout as his beautiful beloved has died. Loneliness and alienation as well as beauty and death are the themes of the poem. The speaker is reminiscent of the beauty of his beloved, and also her untimely death. The speaker shouts out in the end, “Leave my loneliness unbroken!” because it also helps him reflect upon himself.

It is certainly a long poem of eighteen stanzas comprising of six lines each. The meter of the poem is trochaic octameter. The poem has a supernatural and grave tone, but a remarkable imagery. The repetition of words like “nothing more” and “nevermore” give the poem a musical lilt and emphasize the rhyming pattern. The setting of the poem seems very Gothic as the speaker lives in a lonely apartment, the fire is dying, and it’s a “bleak December” night. The use of a ‘devil bird’ such as raven also suggests this as it represents death and darkness. It’s a dreary night, the speaker is feeling “weak and weary” and is tormented by the loss of love. Poe creates a spooky and creepy atmosphere of horror and suspense. It’s dark, cold, late and bleak. The rustling sound of the curtains is also sad for him. The protagonist is grieving the loss of his love Lenore, whom he describes as "the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore”. He is visited by a mysterious bird that speaks, but only one word ‘Nevermore’. When he hears some tapping in the house he is startled and has “fantastic terrors never felt before”, but his “soul grew stronger” and he calls out to the visitor, thinking it is Lenore but it is unexpectedly a raven, an overbearing intruder so to say. He describes the raven as “Ghastly grim and ancient” which is an embodiment of grief. He wonders if the bird is a devil or a prophet who can tell whether he and his beloved will ever meet in heaven and if there is “balm in Gilead” meaning respite and hope in future. To this the bird replies ‘Nevermore’ which is the only word it knows. Every time the speaker asks or says something, the bird only responds by saying ‘Nevermore’. This word is used as a refrain at the end of each stanza, giving the lines a different meaning. The speaker assumes that the bird will go away like everyone else and leave him alone the next day. He is drowned in grief for his beloved who is no more and finds it difficult to overcome the loss. Throughout the poem we see the speaker’s depression and the melancholy side is emphasized by the darkness of the cold night of December. With the speakers growing tension revealed in his thoughts and questions, the stanzas become more and more dramatic. Gradually in the poem we observe that he becomes growingly agitated both mentally and physically, the ending of every stanza with “Nevermore” just adds to the despair of his soul. Some critics call the poem one of the bleakest poems written by Poe, because of the negative answers repeated throughout. The poet uses literary devices such as alliterations like ‘while’, ‘weak’ and ‘weary’ in the first line which produces an effect of unsteadiness. The symbol used in the poem is that of the raven itself that has a dark and gloomy countenance similar to the narrator’s mental turmoil. The Bust of Pallas is also symbolic of the goddess of Wisdom and the speaker’s beautiful chamber symbolizes the beauty of his beloved, Lenore. The narrator can’t avoid thinking of his beloved and her memories just add to his pain and sorrow. It’s interesting to see in the poem how the raven stimulates his nostalgia for Lenore and he expresses his grief through the medium of a creature that has no feelings or consciousness. The poet Edgar Allan Poe uses a number of folk and classical references such as the bust of Pallas, night’s Plutonian shore, Gilead, distant Aidenn, etc. The main theme of the poem as we can understand is undying love and devotion of the narrator towards his beloved Lenore, whom he desires to both forget and remember at the same time. He experiences a conflict here that simply adds to his grief. This suggests some ambiguity in the mental state of the narrator as it dwindles between forgetting and remembering. However, he wishes and hopes that one day he will be united with his beloved in heaven. But it’s strange to note that inspite of missing his beloved so intensely, the poet doesn’t describe Lenore in detail in the poem. The other themes in the poem are the death of the young beautiful woman and the helplessness and grief of the narrator. The poem tells of the poet’s remarkable imagination and deft command of the language which he uses so beautifully to bring out the larger meaning of the poem. He uses words such as weary, bleak, dying, mystery, stillness, grave, which contribute to the overall meaning and melancholic tone of the poem. It’s a dramatic poem possessing a tragic element and expressing deep human pain of the loss of love.

The Raven. 2012. ENotes. 6 December 2012. Poe’s Poetry Summary and Analysis. 2012. Gradesaver. 6 December 2012


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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — The Raven — Analysis Of What Makes The Raven A Great Piece Of Poetry


Analysis of What Makes The Raven a Great Piece of Poetry

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the raven essay

“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe Analysis” Rhetorical Essay

The Raven is a narrative styled poem by popular poet Poe. It is a brilliant expression of loss and the musings of the narrator about his loss are simply enchanting. The simple musicality and a sense of the supernatural theme contained in the narration are engulfing.

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The flow of the poem is vividly described step by step explaining in detail every single action of the narrator. The poem manages to show the untold devotion the narrator has to a love one who has already left him. The raven that visits him briefly makes his mind deviate from the mourning but he soon resumes his old sadness (Gerald 92).

A poem that deals with family relationships and explain the poem’s meaning

The poem is heavily based on the relationship between the narrator and Lenore with their affection being the subject of the whole poem. The narrator is presumably mourning the loss of Lenore and assumes that the raven was an angel sent to comfort him during his grief. The poem describes the sad state of the narrator and describes how the presence of the bird on his window brings him joy.

The narrator is just indoors almost napping but is awaken by a wrapping on his door that turns out to be just the wind. He most probably created the wrapping on his door by thinking, but then the raven tapping on his window turns out to be real (Gerald 88).

He is momentarily relieved of his mourning as he indulges the raven. He happens to think that the bird can talk and claims that the only answer the bird has given is the word nevermore.

This response does not go well with the narrator since he asks the bird more questions and when the raven replies nevermore to whether the narrator is going to reunite with Lenore in heaven the narrator is infuriated. The speaker is essential to the point of view from which the poem is written.

The poem has a sad tone which is the general atmosphere of sadness that characterizes the personal life journey of Poe. He faced a lot of challenges in his life and it seems he was accustomed to being sad. His father abandoned them when he was young and his relationship with his step father was a struggle.

He never managed to finish college because he was a drunk and used to gamble. Even life with his relatives did not work out for him.

This vicious cycle of sadness never left him and after the failure of his first two marriages he married Virginia. This marriage was first done in secret since she was his cousin and in addition thirteen years of age making her a minor. Furthermore, it expresses the unending devotion that the narrator has for a loved one they have lost.

It is also a mourning poem like a dirge that never ends. The mournful tone could also be as result of the narrator’s grief due to his mother’s Eliza Poe’s death (Gerald, 72).

Analyze a love and death poem relating it to both the cultural time in which it was written and the present.

The poem describes the narrator’s deep anguish after losing a loved one. This deep feeling of loss can only result from deeper feelings of love. The strong bond that the love causes is the reason as to why the narrator is so saddened by his loss. He keeps thinking that the person who left them is going to come back hence when he hears a knock he assumes that it is Lenore.

The way the knock on the door is described as gentle and his response in a sure manner shows his anticipation that Lenore will return to him. The arrival of the bird makes him excited that he will hear from Lenore. The narrator even seems happy for a moment when the bird is there (Robert 99).

The death of Lenore seems to have devastated the narrator because his current mental state is questionable. He thinks that the bird has been sent from the afterlife with a message from Lenore. He even believes that the bird can speak and when it responds unfavorably to his question he gets agitated.

Select one of Edgar Allan Poe’s and Emily Frost’s poems. Analyze it and explain why it is representative of their work

The poem is composed of eighteen stanzas each of which has five lines. It uses a lot of rhyme within and without the stanzas, for instance the more, evermore and nevermore. It also has a lot of alliteration in the lines one is rapping, tapping and napping.

There is an extensive use of repletion as the word nevermore has been repeated to end the stanzas. The main theme is death that describes loss and mourning and best represented by the sad tone maintained through out the poem (Gerald, 70).

The Raven was Poe’s first work that made him popular and the way he wrote it to satisfy both the classical readers and seasonal readers. This work made Poe a household name in American literature. The work encompasses Poe’s literary skills since he wrote both poems and narratives.

This is a poem that was written in narrative style but contains poem properties. The description is as a narrative but the literary work is done in stanzas and lines just like a poem. This poem shows Poe’s ability to combine his creative abilities to come up with a brilliant work of art (Robert 101).

Works Cited

Gerald, Kennedy. A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe . New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

Robert, Regan. Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall, 2007. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2022, August 1). "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe Analysis".

IvyPanda. (2022, August 1). "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe Analysis". Retrieved from

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1. IvyPanda . "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe Analysis." August 1, 2022.


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In January 1845, “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe was born, it was deemed one of Poe’s greatest poems. The purpose of “The Raven” was set around a man grieving for the love of Lenore. A raven land in the chamber of a mans home through the window. When asking the raven questions, the answers that he receives are only “Nevermore”. That being the only word the raven can speak it reminds him of his loss of Lenore. Edgar Allen Poe was a very dark poet, I believe that the purpose was to grieve over the loss of the mans love Lenore. He tries to read to sidetrack himself from the thought of losing her, when the Raven comes to talk to him. Since the Raven only says Nevermore, there is despair that is unending. The Raven representing the sadness through the whole poem.

At first thought, you may think that this poem is ethos-based poem, since Poe is a well-established poet and writer. When you start reading the poem though it becomes very clear that this is more of a pathos: emotional writing. The story behind the poem being about a struggle that a man goes through when he losses his beloved Lenore. The poem begins and ends with the focus being on his loss. When the raven enters the poem is when you can hear the man’s sorrow, he questions the reason of why the raven is here. He starts to think of the raven as the devil, thinking that the raven came to torment him over the loss of Lenore. I think that you can feel the emotion just emitting from the man, from start to finish.

The terminology is a great contributor to pathos in this piece as well. The language that is used is very dynamic, which allows the poem to be viewed the way that Poe intended. Poe is constantly discussing darkness, somber, and depressing words which makes his tone perceptible: “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing… The silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token” (25, 27). He also refers to the raven as “the bird of ill omen”. The audience isn’t left guessing and can get a better understanding, which allows for a greater bond for the story, and what its meaning is behind it. The poem depends on the rhyming, which gives the poem a sing song feel, allowing a deeper connection with the audience. Which helps with connecting to the audience since it is a piece to be experienced instead of just read.

Poe uses ethos in his poem to make it feel more relatable, in this case it was to find people that have issues with letting go, but also that ignore their past. Nearing the end of the poem I feel that you hear Poe’s voice show through as it leads up to an outburst. “leave my loneliness unbroken” (100). It seems to not just be any expression, but one that he was trying to guard and keep deep down within himself all along. Showing just how isolated he is and how the raven representing that the loneness has gotten to him. Going back to pathos now, Poe may have felt the after losing Lenore, that isolation was the only way to keep living. The best way to describe that being lonely is the way to live is when the speaker introduces Lenore as “Nameless here for evermore”. (11)

(Death is a large part of this piece, it shows effects of death on the living, mourning and memories that still are in the minds of those alive. Death is in the beginning of the piece when the man is in the dark mourning the lose of his Lenore, seeming though to be a distraction from the pain. Which is something that many people do to escape then pain of reality, which can relate to pathos. When calling to the door when knocked on, hoping that it would be Lenore coming back. The desperation of having her back is apparent, just like in life that the emotion is strong and the urge to have a loved one back even though we know its not possible, it’s a very strong emotion. This poem is very dark and sad and pulls at the heart string of desperation to have a loved one back because we can all, or mostly all relate to wanting some one back, to the point you would almost do anything to have them back. ) 

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